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Petition Drive Management System
Updated 4/13/2011

Note: We initially planned to conduct the petition drive ourselves, paying circulators $1 per signature, but later decided that contracting with a signature-gathering firm would be no more expensive and more likely to succeed. The following was our rough design of the system we would use if we did it ourselves. This system was part of our business plan.


We will need a computer system to do several things for us:

  • keep track of the number of signatures weíve gathered for each initiative (so we know when we are done)

  • verify that circulators are registered to vote in Michigan and that petition signers are registered in the county named at the top of the petition

  • keep track of the number of valid signatures each circulator has gathered so we can write paychecks

  • accumulate payroll information so we can report to the IRS and send 1099 forms to circulators at the end of the year

  • keep track of processed petition forms so stored forms can be retrieved if questions arise

We have obtained from the state Bureau of Elections a copy of the Qualified Voter File (QVF). It has over 6 million voter records. We plan to use it to verify that our circulators are registered in Michigan and that petition signers are registered in the county named at the top of the petition. We might also use it to provide walking lists to our circulators. A walking list is a list of registered voters on a specified street, in house number order. The QVF file is updated once a month. Each copy costs us $22.50.


Recruiting circulators/initial package:

We will begin signing up circulators a month or so before April 15. They will contact the Committee by phone or email or by sending a request using a form on our website (that form is ready to go). Our staff person will send them a package that includes petition forms, instructions, a payment form to collect social security number and bank information should the circulator choose direct deposit, and an envelope for returning the petitions to us, with postage paid by the Committee.

The person sending the package will enter into the system the following information:

  • Circulator name and address

  • Date the package was sent

New Circulator Setup

Name (Last, First, MI)  
Street 1  
Street 2  
Date Initial Package Sent  

The return envelope will have our address and USPS Business Reply Mail information printed on it.

A postage sticker for the package will be printed with the Stamps.com program, based on weight calculated by a digital scale plugged into our computer.

Processing payment forms:

The first package of petitions received from a circulator should include his payment form and direct deposit info. A staff person will look up the circulator in our system and enter the following information:

  • No pay indicator (circulator asks not to be paid)

  • SSN

  • Bank number

  • Bank account number

Add Circulator's Payment Info

Johnson, Brenda Gail
Circulator ID #: 12345
Date Initial Package Sent: 05/14

Street 1 1234 Mandalay Blvd
Street 2  
City Roscommon
Zip 49234
No pay indicator  
Bank #  
Account #  

The payment form is then scanned and the image file is saved using the circulator number as filename.

Processing petitions:

To each petition, a staff person will affix the date received and a petition number. Petition numbers could be on tiny sticky labels printed by the computer with a serial number generating program.

The petition is then reviewed, looking for problems that would invalidate the entire petition, such as no circulator signature. If the petition is OK, the staff person will review the individual signatures for problems. (We have a document from Secretary of State that tells which irregularities are acceptable and which are not.) The Qualified Voter File is checked to make sure each signer is registered in the county, and if he is, a transaction is done to record the petition number and signature date to this voter's record in the QVF file:

Post Petition Number, Signature Date

Williams, Elaine Ruth
3412 Taylor St

Lake Orion, MI 48906

County:  Oakland

Initiative Petition # Date Signed
Eliminate Senate 123456 05/23
Repeal Pera 123457 05/23
Ban CB 123458 05/23
RTWork 123459 05/23

This is done so that if the voter signs the same petition again, the signature will be rejected and the circulator won't get credit.

A line is drawn through each invalid signature. For each reviewed petition, the staff person will enter into the system the following information:

  • Petition/sheet number

  • Circulator number (obtained from our system by searching the circulator file using the circulatorís name)

  • County code (01-83)

  • Initiative code (1-4)

  • Invalid sheet indicator (Y or N)

  • Invalid sheet reason code

  • Number of good signatures

  • Number of bad (removed) signatures

  • Date signed by circulator

  • Earliest signature date

  • Date received

Petition Info

Petition number  
Circulator number  
County code (01-83)  
Initiative code (1-4)  
Invalid sheet indicator (Y or N)  
Invalid sheet reason code  
Number of good signatures  
Number of bad (removed) signatures  
Date signed by circulator  
Earliest signature date  
Date received  

When the transaction is complete, the sheet is scanned and the file is saved using the sheet number as the file number.

When all the petitions submitted by a circulator have been processed, a new package is sent to replenish his supply. (Circulators will be informed in the initial instructions that they will be sent another batch of blank petitions when they submit completed ones, so if thatís not what they want, they should include a note.)


QVF file:

The QVF file is obtained from the Bureau of Elections, and contains over 6 million records. We will modify the file to remove any fields we don't need and add 8 new fields: the petition number and date signed for each of the 4 initiatives. The Bureau of Elections updates the file monthly, so we will need to match their new file with ours, adding new records and removing records that no longer appear.

Circulator file:

Circulator name, address, SSN, circulator ID number, pay/no pay indicator, bank number, account number, total valid signatures gathered, accumulated payment total, payment method (check or direct deposit), date initial package sent.

Circulator payment file:

Payroll number, circulator number, date, payment amount

Payroll file (to be submitted to payroll agency):

Circulator number, name, address, payment amount, payment method (check or direct deposit), bank number, account number

(We could also do our own payroll using Intuit Online Payroll.)

Sheet (petition) file:

Sheet number (number assigned to each returned petition form), sheet image, initiative code (identifies the initiative: eliminate senate, repeal PERA, right-to-work, ban collective bargaining for state employees), county, circulator number, valid/invalid sheet indicator, invalid sheet reason code, number of good signatures, number of removed signatures, date signed by circulator, date received, paid indicator, payroll number